logical question raised when hearing or seeing our Mass for the first time
is: WHY THE OLD LATIN MASS? Truly a threefold question calling for a
only "raison d'être" and justification of the Church's
activities is the eternal salvation of human beings created to some day live happily forever in Heaven. That eternal
salvation became available to all the day Jesus Christ, true God and true
man, sacrificed His life on the cross of Calvary. It is through the sacrifice
of the Mass that the graces and merits of the Cross reach us, otherwise
separated from that first Good Friday by nineteen centuries of time and
space. The sacrifice of the Mass, THE UNBLOODY RENEWAL OF THE SACRIFICE OF
THE CROSS, is therefore not only the central point of Roman Catholic worship,
but, even more so, the Church's very heart without which the Church simply
cannot survive. The current situation in the Church proves only too
tragically how right the late Cardinal Newman was when he wrote: "Tolle Missam, tolle Ecclasiam! - Destroy the Mass, and you destroy the
the Mass IN LATIN?
top of the cross on which our Savior died, the cause of his death -
"Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews" - was written in Hebrew,
Greek and Latin. In tribute to this historical fact, the Mass of the Roman
Catholic Church, while always preserving certain Greek and Hebrew
expressions, has from the very first century been conducted in Latin, the
language of old Rome, the see of St. Peter and the popes who would succeed
him. To preserve the Latin in the Church's public worship is to preserve the
link between the Church of today and the Church of the past.
thus being a sign of historical CONTINUITY, the Latin language is also a sign
of UNIVERSALITY. No one insisted more strongly on this point than Pope John
XXIII, the most abused and disobeyed pope in modern times, who made his own
the words of Pius XI: "A universal Church must have a universal
language." Just as Roman Catholics have a right to expect the same
beliefs among members of their Church anywhere in the world, so do they have
a right to find themselves "at home" in every one of their churches
the world over. This they always did and do when properly trained to use the
bilingual missals containing on one side their own language translation,
while on the other side those familiar Latin sounds they heard since
childhood as a second mother tongue, that of their Mother the Church.
the TRADITIONAL Mass in Latin?
Mass uninterruptedly kept alive by the Catholic Traditionalist Movement,
founded in 1964, is truly "traditional," dating back some nineteen
centuries. To refer to this Mass as "Tridentine
Mass" or "Mass of St. Pius V" is historically incorrect and
tactically unwise. All the sixteenth century Tridentine
Council and Pope Pius V did was to eliminate from the Mass of their days
certain long and cumbersome prayers of more recent vintage, and thus restore
the Catholic Mass to its ORIGINAL PURITY and relative simplicity.
fact that Pius V, on one of those rare historical occasions when a pope uses
his supreme authority to issue a decree "IN PERPETUITY," made that
restored old Mass the untouchable Mass "for all times," earned him
not only his subsequent canonization as a saint, but also the immense gratitude
of today's loyal Roman Catholics who use his decree "Quo Primum" as their justification, before God and men,
to say "No!" to anyone attempting to replace the "Ordo Missae" of all past
and future centuries with a "New Order" of a fluctuating and
July 19, 1977
407th anniversary of "Quo Primum"
Father Gommar A. De Pauw, J.C.D.,
Former Major Seminary Academic Dean and
Professor of Theology and Canon Law;
Founder-President of the
Catholic Traditionalist Movement, Inc.
POPE SAINT PIUS V